when we began the pretty hate machine remaster project, trent discussed with me the idea of tweaking the original artwork a bit to reflect that this was a different version of the album, updated from its original release. we talked about maybe just changing the color scheme a bit – trent was keen on losing the distinctly 80′s hot pink color, for one. it seemed like a fairly straightforward project, as i certainly didn’t want to try and radically alter an album cover i’d been looking at since i was a teenager, and that some fans had known very well for more than two decades.
i tried a number of different approaches – i even got some various mechanical parts from hardware stores and arranged them in a way that resembled the shape of the cover image (i’d remembered reading long ago that the original image was taken of some sort of factory machine, with spokes that looked like ribs), and photographed it in different ways, then attempted to push the contrast of the photos and pull shapes out of them. nothing was working out very well though. it either looked too far away from the original cover, or like a weird, sad imitation of it.
finally, i decided to painstakingly recreate the original cover as closely as possible. using my scan of the original as a template, i digitally painted the image in extremely high resolution, the same way i’d approach an illustration. i used a meticulous set of masks to recreate the “interlaced” horizontal line effect of the original cover. after a lot of trial-and-error, i eventually finished with a new version of the original artwork, created in a very different way, but retaining the same spirit.
the font, a stretched-out version of helvetica, looked dated to me, but i wanted to be respectful of the original design and not mess with it too much. when trent saw what i’d done though, he wanted to try a new approach to the title text, as he felt the font was just too dated and could use a more modern look for this remaster. so i went back to the original album and looked at the font that had been used for the credits and lyrics, which turned out to be a slight variation of a font gary talpas later used in the downward spiral. putting the phm title in that font was way too similar to the downward spiral, but when i put it in caps it created an odd mix of vintage nin and modern nin – perfect for a 2010 remaster of a 1989 album.
to push the art a bit further, i got the idea of printing the image out at a very high dpi and photographing it with a narrow depth of field, allowing parts of it to fall out of focus. this gave a new depth to the previously flat artwork, and it turned out to be exactly what the image was missing.
for the remainder of the package, i was cautious not to add much extra artwork and overdo it. the original sleeve was extremely minimal, only using type on black amidst a few variations of the cover image here and there for the internal art, so i wanted to preserve that. (…) the only other piece of art in the original insert was a photograph of trent. revisiting that, trent wasn’t incredibly excited about including it in this version, and we didn’t have the original photograph anyway, so we left it out.
throughout this process, i was very concerned with being respectful to the original artwork. this is not my album, and as a fan for many years, i have the same attachment to the original art that many other fans do. so my tendency was to play it safe, but it was trent who felt a bit less precious about the original art, and he pushed me to do something that was visually further away from what i had originally intended. i think in the end we found a great middle ground, and we’re both really pleased with how it turned out.
- rob sheridan
+: read the whole interview here (sleevage: album cover design blog)
"i’m happy to finally announce the re-issue of the first nine inch nails record "pretty hate machine," releasing worldwide 11/22. ume and bicycle music group managed to locate the original mixes, so i went in the studio with tom baker and remastered it for a grealy improved sonic experience. in addition, rob sheridan reinterpreted gary talpas’ original cover to make for a fresh new package.
it’s been an interesting trip watching the fate of this record float from one set of hands to another (a long and depressing story) but it’s finally wound up in friendly territory, allowing us to polish it up a bit and present it to you now. we had fun revisiting this old friend, hope you enjoy.”
- trent reznor
+: releasing on digital/vinyl/cd
mt. rainier national park (iphone 4 photo)
august, 22 2010
by rob sheridan
+: flickr (including the image straight off the iphone, with no photoshop at all)